Today is the Last Sunday following Pentecost. It Marks the end of another annual journey that we walk here at St. Andrew, a journey that is and has been walked for two millennium. Today the annual journey concludes, just as next week the annual journey begins again.
Throughout our Anglican communion this last Sunday after Pentecost is known as Christ the King Sunday, reflected in our collect: Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the King of Kings and Lord of lords…” It is also reflected in the Gospel reading when the dying Jesus, hanging in agony upon a cross, is given the name “King of the Jews,” as a taunt and mockery by those who condemned him. I personally find it troubling that the church maintained this title as an appropriate description of the risen and cosmic Christ. If the life of Jesus is for us a perfect image of the incarnation of God in the flesh, then the title “King” or “Queen” or “Prince” or “Lord” are hardly appropriate. These titles may impress us, but any reading of the gospels reveals the biography of a man whose life was dedicated to the low and serving places, and whose teaching gave frequent warning to those who aspire to be rulers, kings, queens, princes, and lords. Instead, be servants, children, humble, counted amongst the teeming masses who needed compassion and shepherds, instead of rulers and authorities. So, for me, the title, King Jesus, or Lord of Lords, or even the evangelical invocation for Jesus to be my Lord… has ceased to resonate. Jesus, is my image of God, and as that image, God appears to me as servant, shepherd, rabbi, humble, authentic, victim of injustice, healer, and one who is acquainted with grief and suffering. Jesus never looked like or aspired to be a King when he walked those 33 years in Galilee, so I am not sure if it is helpful to invoke that image in the tradition that has followed his life. But those are only my individual insights, and there are good reasons why the terms King and Lord and prince, are right and beneficial and helpful as the church has sought to do its work in the wake of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension.
Another reason, I think, why this image of Jesus upon a throne is invoked on this last Sunday of the year, is a statement about the right summation of all things. All things will be well and as they should be when Jesus, the Christ, the one whom the writer of Colossians describes as: “all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell..” This is some deep theological and philosophical stuff. Suffice it to say, I hope you see the great distance the church journeys in one year, as the journey begins with the faint and distant cries of the Hebrew prophets dreaming of a day when the peace and justice and compassion of God will govern the peoples of the earth, and the journey ends with Jesus, the suffering servant, the migrant teacher, the crucified objector, the poet and peasant, ascends to the seat as one in whom we all move and breathe and have our being. No more corruption, no more tyrants, dictators, oligarchies, aristocrats, oppressors, polarization, marginalization, genocides, and war…no more cyclical poverty or hoarded wealth, no more exploited masses or benefitting elite. The world is centered around the beloved and healing peace that was secured by the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ.
In our own parish, this day is also the observance of our Patron Saint, Andrew. And it is also our annual thanksgiving feast. Both appropriate as a conclusion and summation of our annual journeys together. In this past year much has transpired, much has changed, some things have passed away, some things are emerging new. If we are attentive, we would marvel what all can transpire when you walk the path of faith, hope, and love… when you recognize life as an eternal cycle of conception to resurrection, when your days and months and years are guided and marked by the life of the Christ, who becomes the center of your individual and communal life: wondrous peace, and compassion, and healing, and beautiful rhythm emanates from such a way of life. It is a beautiful way to mark the year and years of our life, together and as indviduals and families. Every year the same, every year different, and every year we carry our times and places from the yearning dreams of prophets and poets to the glorious realization of God’s beloved community upon the earth. Beginning next week, we will offer a catechumenal that will give greater attention and communal conversation as we begin again Walking the year of Grace.
I conclude with Paul’s prayer for the church in Colossae as we heard it read this morning, “may you be made strong with all the strength that comes from God’s glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.”